Enduring Freedom
A U.S. Special Forces soldier hunting for Taliban inside a compound in Wardak province, Afghanistan. Army Photo / Staff Sgt. William Newman

Check Out This New Wish List for U.S. Special Ops

Apr 28, 2014

The U.S. military’s commandos are among the best in the world. But they can always get better. That means faster, lighter, deadlier, cheaper. So that’s why U.S. Special Operations Command issued a formal request for “Advancement of Technologies in Equipment for Use by U.S. Special Operations Forces” on Monday.

“USSOCOM is interested in receiving white papers from all responsible sources from industry, academia, individuals, and Government laboratories capable of providing the design, construction, and testing of SOF related technologies,” Special Ops headquarters in Tampa, Fla., says.

Many of the wished-for technologies simply improve on existing gear. But others seem like blue-sky fantasies.

Since everyone else seems to be carrying concealed weapons lately, why not U.S. Special Forces:

Concealable/Take Down Urban Sniper Rifle (CUSR). The CUSR is a small and light sniper rifle that can be rapidly dissembled for concealed carry and rapidly reassembled by the operator to engage target. CUSR desired characteristics include accurate (1 Minute Of Angle at 300m), lightweight (12 lbs. Threshold, 8 lbs. Objective), fit in small case (12 in. x 20 in. Threshold, 12 in. x 16 in. Objective), and compatible with current suppressor or include suppressed barrel.

Not to mention their everyday weapon:

Personnel Defense Weapon (PDW). The PDW is significantly smaller and lighter than the M4A1 with capabilities beyond any pistol. There are two types of interest, those based on an operator/unit armor modification to a M4A1 carbine and those based on a unique weapon design, both of which must fire standard 5.56mm X 45mm NATO ammunition. PDW desired characteristics include lightweight (6 lbs. Threshold, 5 lbs. Objective), concealable (18 in. Threshold, 16 in. Objective), effectively fired in its collapsed configuration, semi/full automatic, and rapidly employed from concealed carry.

Some high-powered bullets would be nice:

.338 Lapua Magnum Anti-Materiel Ammunition. .338 Lapua magnum anti-materiel ammunition that would be fired from the Precision Sniper Rifle at ranges from 500m-1500m. Anti-materiel .338 Lapua desired characteristics include armor piercing capability to penetrate Level IV body armor (500m Threshold, 800m Objective), cinder block greater than 12 in., 10% Gel, and stop vehicle/small boat engines.

As would kinder, gentler rounds:

Stopping/Disabling Individuals. Technologies that can stop/disable individuals for an extended duration, remain less lethal, and be useable on combatant and noncombatant individuals. The effect must immediately prohibit the individual's ability to perform a useful function at ranges greater than 6 ft.

Not to mention area-denial options:

Deny Area/Isolate Objective. Technologies that use less lethal payloads to prevent combatant and noncombatant individuals from entering a specific area for a specified period of time.

We’ve got guided missiles … why not guided bullets?

Precision Guided Small Arms Munitions. Small unit organic munitions capable of delivering highly accurate kinetic effects on stationary, moving, soft targets, or the interior of hardened targets at ranges beyond crew served weapons effective range. Potential material approaches may include guided 40mm tube launched grenades; self-propelled, precision-guided, handheld grenades; guided 84mm Carl Gustav munitions; and handheld guided kinetically armed unmanned aerial systems.

And boosted brainpower, via drugs or other means, would surely be an advantage:

Electroencephalography monitors for real-time measurement of brain activity and quantification of loading, applicable technologies to measure/quantify neurocognitive loading, technologies (i.e. nanotechnology/biotechnology) and neutraceutical and/or pharmacological enhancements to increase neuroperformance.

Time lag in video games is a drag. Inside battlefield electronics, it can be deadly:

Decrease in latency of ground systems to less than one millisecond from external activity to viewing by Operator. Decrease in latency of ground systems to less than one millisecond from Operator activity to external action.

Calling Google!

Heads up Display (HUD) technology for day or night operations that is low profile (e.g. form factor of eyeglasses/sunglasses), securely and wirelessly imports and exports FMV or data feeds, supports augmented reality, integrated sensors, is configurable with software applications (“apps”), offers or collects actionable battlefield information, and provides map displays with situational awareness data.

Finally, a technology that would be hailed by civilians just as much as soldiers:

Through-wall imaging/sensing.

“The intent,” the Special Ops command says, “is to accelerate the delivery of innovative capabilities to the SOF warfighter.” Developers are invited to submit five-page proposals, complete with cost and schedule estimates, before June 12 for possible Pentagon funding.

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